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Kalgera: UCL startup safeguards the finances of vulnerable adults

An innovative new mobile and web application is helping to protect the finances of vulnerable adults, including the elderly, who are at risk of online fraud and scamming.

1 April 2019

A population at risk of fraud

Each year, around five million older people in the UK fall victim to scams, collectively losing an estimated £1.2 billion. Health factors and life events can contribute to financial vulnerability and increase the likelihood that a scamming attempt will be successful.

Dr Dexter Penn, Clinical Research Fellow at the UCL Dementia Research Centre, observed this problem daily through his clinical work in elderly care. It came into sharp focus when a patient fell victim to scams and lost the money to pay for his place in a care home. After an emotional visit from the patient’s only surviving relative, Dexter was compelled to provide better financial safeguarding. 

Innovative financial safeguarding 

Dexter devised a solution which applies neuroscience research and machine learning to detect subtle changes in financial behaviour associated with vulnerability to fraud. 

Kalgera – meaning ‘good old-age’ in Ancient Greek – is a mobile and web app that analyses past and present financial behaviour to identify risks and trigger personalised alerts. Users can also nominate trusted family and friends to manage shared financial decision-making without compromising their account details or their ability to move money. 

Research shows that around half of the six million caregivers in the UK assist loved ones with money management, but find it difficult due to a lack of time and access to information. The Kalgera app means conversations can be had quickly if something doesn’t seem right, while allowing vulnerable people to stay in control.

From business concept to delivery 

After shaping his idea at a UCL enterprise boot camp, Dexter won the UCL Bright Ideas Award (now the ‘Launch £10,000 Programme’) and was given free office space at The Hatchery – UCL’s business incubator for startups. He obtained financial support, mentorship and guidance from UCL Innovation & Enterprise – enabling him to complete market research and find suitable co-founders to develop Kalgera.

Dr Dexter Penn, Clinical Research Fellow at the UCL Dementia Research Centre, and co-founder of Kalgera
Kalgera has already captured the imagination of the fintech world – winning the UCL George Fahra New Venture Award, being named by Tech Nation as one of three ‘Top New Financial Inclusion Startups’, and listed by Centrica as one of the ‘Top 20 Global Ageing startups’. 


Dexter has also contributed to discussions around public policy at a round-table meeting at 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office. 

He's subsequently been appointed to the NHS England Clinical Entrepreneur Programme, and secured more than £300,000 of additional investment in 2018. 

Kalgera will formally launch as a subscription service in 2019, and is currently employing four staff members. 

Dr Dexter Penn said: “From ward rounds to funding rounds, Kalgera represents a personal transformation for me. I wouldn’t have known how to make my idea a reality without the guidance I’ve received from UCL. I’ve been able to find my voice and develop my skills to tackle a problem I feel passionately about.”

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Images courtesy of Kalgera Ltd, 2019.

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